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Publisher's Summary

Why do our headaches persist after taking a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a 50-cent aspirin? Why does recalling the 10 Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn't possibly be caught? Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save 25 cents on a can of soup? Why do we go back for second helpings at the unlimited buffet, even when our stomachs are already full? And how did we ever start spending $4.15 on a cup of coffee when, just a few years ago, we used to pay less than a dollar?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're in control. We think we're making smart, rational choices. But are we? In a series of illuminating, often surprising experiments, MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. Blending everyday experience with groundbreaking research, Ariely explains how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same types of mistakes, Ariely discovers. We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable - making us predictably irrational.

From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Ariely explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions. Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world - one small decision at a time.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2008 Dan Ariely; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Interesting food for thought

A good intro for the subject, but perhaps a bit of a re-tread if you're already familiar with it. Some of the sections felt like they dragged a bit, but there were enough new ideas, or new twists on old ideas, to maintain focus. Narration was engaging. Overall, this was definitely worth a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful overview of behavioral economics

I recognized my own behavior in many of the stories. As a CPA and financial leader, I am interested in how often people behave completely irrationally.

I particularly enjoyed the analysis of Free and free shipping because I have personally increased purchases on many occasions by falling for this trick. Being more cognizant of this irrational behavior will hopefully save me from overspending in the future.

This book was interesting and well organized. I highly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Plano, TX, United States
  • 09-16-10

A fun read but beware the liberal bias

I really enjoyed this book. Several times as Dan Ariely was setting up the test parameters, I would think that he was missing a key piece, but then he would further develop the test and include my concern. I found it to be personally enlightening (and personally frustrating, but that's personal).

I have one complaint. Dan Ariely is obviously a liberal, and also obviously a fan of government run programs, like national healthcare. At one point in the book, Dan has demonstrated, through scientific study that people are irrational. He then, without any scientific information, claims that because we are irrational, we need national healthcare. He took no steps to back the claim that the government is inherently more rational than we mere individuals. This particular issue was very short (like a paragraph, or even a single sentence) but it has forced me, when recommending the book to others, to clarify that he is a liberal and is pushing an agenda outside of his scientific evidence or study.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Entertaining and Educational

The book is really funny, insightful and made me think a lot about why I do things I do. Though I found it a great intro to behavioral economics, it's worth reading for entertainment value alone. The narration is top rate and the pace is great.

I didn't agree with most of the recommendations he makes based on the results of his studies, but the studies in themselves are very educational and he leaves plenty of room to draw your own conclusions. I was also disappointed by chapter 5 which is clearly sensationalism and I found embarrassing to listen to. If you've got kids in the car, you'll definitely want to skip that chapter. Other than those minor qualms, it's a great book.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Meghan
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 05-05-10

better than a psych 101 textbook, but that's all

I felt this book beat me over the head with concepts that were actually rather obvious. Would make an interesting read if perhaps I had never taken any Psych classes at all during the course of my formal education.

If I were still teaching psych, I'd probably adopt is as a textbook. It's about the caliber of Aronson's Social Animal: good as a textbook but not as leisure reading.

It is also not read in a way that is interesting, but is just flat and dry.

I got it because it was reverenced in Dan Pink's Drive, but I'm actually pretty disappointed that I used a credit on this one.

15 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

unfortunately mediocre

On the whole, his research methods are seriously flawed and his results to conclusions leaps are often gigantic. Still, he manages to come to some very good observations that do need more consideration than we often give them. The hubris behind his recommendations is really uncalled for, though.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Painfull to read very disapointing

What disappointed you about Predictably Irrational?

The autor make a lot of contradicctions and assumtions.

What was most disappointing about Dan Ariely’s story?

The premise of the book, more goverment intervention.

What didn’t you like about Simon Jones’s performance?

is Ok very clear and good tone for a person of spanish lenguage

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The story of the social experiments.

Any additional comments?

I don't recomend for libertarians.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • KP
  • United States
  • 01-19-13

Entertaining and Easy to Follow

Fascinating information about human behavior -- and how it consistently is "irrational" -- is presented in an easy-to-digest, easy-to-understand manner. The writing is excellent, and the terrific narrator's jaunty accent and manner of speaking enhance it even further. I found parts of it especially interesting to consider from the perspective of someone who markets products, as there is great food for thought about selling/marketing tactics.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bryan
  • Smyrna, TN, USA
  • 03-08-08

Insightful and Counter-Intuitive

What a wonderful book! I was amazed by the depth of research and the, sometimes amazing, discoveries. For years I've wondered why we often behave in ways that make no logical sense. Predictably Irrational addresses those behaviors, their triggers, how they become habits, and how they change. I heartily recommend this book.

-- Bryan Entzminger

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Utterly fascinating book

Great book. Written in very clear language.

Example(paraphrased by me):
In the 80s, the Coke vs Pepsi battle.
Pepsi said it was preferred in BLIND taste tests.
Coke said it was preferred in taste tests.
Niether were fudging the results.

The amazing result is that in BLIND taste tests people preferred Pepsi.
When people SAW THE CANS as the sodas were being poured, they preferred Coke.
Again, well design taste tests in both cases. Since people were not influenced by the testers or the test, it was the Coke Brand that made people prefer the Coke.

The book is full of these crazy, "Wow, I can't believe that's how our brain works" scenarios.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Donald Teale
  • 03-15-16

Good introduction

This book captures and explains several interesting concepts, in what I would describe as, cognitive psychology, although the author is keener to label it Economic Psychology.
There are other books that try explain more the Why, rather than the what, particularly Think Fast, Think Slow. Therefore, this is a very accessible good introduction to the subject.

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  • MR NEIL MARTIN
  • 07-24-15

Read this and you will understand why you do stuff

Would you listen to Predictably Irrational again? Why?

Most definitely. This is a book to study not just to listen to once.

Any additional comments?

If you want to understand more about human behaviour, listen to (or read) this book

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  • J. K. Moon
  • 02-07-15

Not so good

There are a lot of books out there on this topic. This is fairly average. Narrator too posh for me.

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  • RAUL
  • 02-08-14

Great insights and great research!

I enjoyed the book even more the more I listened. There were so many clever ways to test ideas, and so much knowledge of how we are as humans. A really great way to get to know more of ourselves and our nexts.

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  • hkatsonga
  • 06-28-13

I love Dan Ariely. A truly out of the box thinker!

Would you listen to Predictably Irrational again? Why?

Maybe but I have good recall and I doubt the second listen would be as intriguing as the first.

What other book might you compare Predictably Irrational to, and why?

Brainfluence?

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  • Samuel
  • 06-22-13

Wonderfully engaging insights into your own mind

Would you listen to Predictably Irrational again? Why?

There were so many bit where I felt i needed to stop and think about how this impacts my daily life that I'm sure reading it again would reveal much that I've forgotten.

What other book might you compare Predictably Irrational to, and why?

It has similarities to "Intuition Pumps" by Dan Dennett, but is more fun to listen to.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The many examples of "the decoy effect"

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

  • Overall
  • Luis
  • 09-01-12

An eye opening account of human irrationality

I really enjoyed this book as Arliely not only discusses how people are irrational, but demonstrates that these behaviours can accurately be predicted and exploited by keener minds.

  • Overall
  • t
  • 02-17-12

predicatably irrational

eceptional!
this book is well written and read and you often find yourself immersed in self reflection and soon gain a desire to undo those irrational traits that we all have. i often find myself listening to this book every 4 or so months

  • Overall
  • Maja
  • 08-15-11

Predictably Irrational

Excellent book with a fresh approach to business psychology. If you are looking for something different to the usual business books, this one is entertaining and insightful. Worth a read.

  • Overall
  • John
  • 11-25-10

Fantastic

This book is truly a 5 star, I couldn't put it down. Every idea put forward is backed up with clear concise experiments. This is not a load of waffle like so many other books I have read.